The latest instalment of our ever-popular Metal Origins series features some music-related reminiscence from Toledo Steel vocalist Rich Rutter… the band have an excellent new album out in the shape of Heading For The Fire through Dissonance Productions next month, but for the moment we’re focusing on the past rather than the present and future, and fans of Scandinavian pop tarts Aqua are in for a nice surprise!

Welcome to Sentinel Daily and thanks for taking part in this round of Q & A’s! Without further ado, let’s get down to business…

What are your earliest memories of heavy metal? “The radio was always playing at home whilst growing up so music was a constant thing. My dad would also play stuff like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and ZZ Top. I can vaguely remember singing along to the chorus of Smoke on the Water whenever it came on! Then when I was around thirteen or fourteen years old I stumbled upon some radio station and heard Iron Maiden’s Run to the Hills and Leather Rebel by Judas Priest for the first time. These two songs really got it all started for me. It sounds super cheesy but when I heard these tracks blasting out of the speakers, I was totally blown away and instantly had to hear more”.

It’s a more common form of first contact than people might think! What was the first metal album you bought with your own cash? “My answer to this question ties in with my previous answer… after hearing those two songs I went down to my local Virgin Megastore and picked up a Maiden album. It should’ve been Number of the Beast or Powerslave maybe, but at the time I was totally new to buying music and picked up Fear of the Dark purely because it had more songs on it! In my mind at the time I guess I felt like I was getting more for my money”.

Never mind the quality, feel the width! Are there any bands you loved as a youngster that cause you to wince now and ask: ‘what was I thinking’? “Of course! I could no doubt give you a whole list of bands. I’ve always loved music from a young age and along the way I’ve bought some quite questionable stuff for sure. I remember buying an album on cassette by that Danish/Norwegian pop band called Aqua. In order to answer this question I had to do a quick google search and yep it was their first album I bought back in 1997 with such hits as Barbie Girl and Doctor Jones on it! My excuse for this cringeworthy purchase is that I was only eight years old at the time and clearly had no idea what I was doing!”

I accept your plea, but as the mighty Biff Byford once said innocence is no excuse! Now, who were the first band you saw live – please feel free to include no-name local bands if that was your first interaction with live metal. “The first proper gig I went to was Heaven and Hell with Ronnie James Dio! Lamb of God were main support and Iced Earth with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens singing for them were the opener. What a way to start! Frustratingly though at the time I was more familiar with the Ozzy Sabbath stuff so a lot of the songs in the set washed over me a bit for Heaven and Hell. That is one gig I wish I could take a time machine back to and experience all over again!”

I see what you did with the time machine reference there… How hard was it growing up to get info on the bands you loved- was there much mainstream media coverage where you lived? “I honestly can’t remember seeing much major mainstream media coverage. I would regularly buy Metal Hammer magazine and browse the rock and metal sections in record stores to see what I could find. I would take a gamble and buy albums based on the cover art and track titles alone. I got pretty good at this and discovered the likes of Running Wild, Grave Digger, Helloween and Megadeth pretty early on. I picked up a few duff albums along the way with this approach but overall it paid off and the journey of discovery was always exciting”.

It’s still as good a method as any for stumbling on new favourite bands! As an adjunct to the previous question, do you think the internet has taken away the mystique of being in a big band for young people today? Do we know too much about our heroes in 2021? “The internet has definitely taken away some of that mystique for sure but it’s up to you whether or not you want to be locked into it all day every day reading every single post and article you can find. The online world is a great tool for promotion for bands but I don’t think it’s necessary to have an insight into every single moment of someone’s day to day personal life or all the inner workings of a band. I myself am not really interested in all that extra noise from the bands I like. Well thought out content when there’s actually something to say has its place though. Quality over quantity!”

Were you a big festival goer as a junior headbanger? “I’ve been to my fair share of festivals but the first proper one I went to was Bloodstock Open Air here in the UK when I was twenty years young! Quite late in the day really and I was no longer a “junior” (laughs). Nevertheless it was great! I’ll always remember that one”.

Would you have hitched hundreds of miles to see your favourite bands if necessary? “I’ve made my fair share of long journeys to gigs over the years and will continue to do so when I can I’m sure. Everything surrounding the show like the travelling and seeing new places is all part of the excitement! If you only ever go to see bands that play right on your doorstep, you’re gonna miss out on a lot of great shows as the years roll by”.

What five albums have stayed with you since your formative metal years? “That’s tough to answer because there’s so many albums that I’ve listened to regularly throughout the years. Five that immediately spring to mind are…

Judas Priest – Screaming for Vengeance

Iron Maiden – Piece of Mind

Running Wild – Black Hand Inn

DokkenTooth and Nail

SavatageHall of the Mountain King

A few honourable mentions would go to GriffinFlight of the Griffin, VictimPower Hungry and Black Sabbath’s – Heaven and Hell”.

Did you have a metal crush? I had life size posters of Lee Aaron and Doro Pesch on my ceiling in 1986… “I can’t say I did! If I’d of been born a few years earlier I may have had a similar looking ceiling to yours though, who knows!” (more laughter).

Thanks for taking part!

Toledo Steel’s Heading For The Fire releases on October 22nd.